In olden times there came once to the Holy Mountain a band or pirates to enter into and loot one of the wealthiest monasteries of the Holy Mountain, the Monastery of Vatopedi. They arrived in the evening and hid in the bushes around the monastery so that they could enter as soon as the gates were opened the following morning. However, the Caretaker of all the Holy Mountain, the Most Holy Virgin Theotokos, would not permit the carrying out of this barbarous act. This is how the plan of the pirates was averted:
On the following day, immediately after the dismissal of the Matins (the service preceding the Liturgy) when all the brothers went to their cells for a short respite, the Abbot remained in the church continuing his prayers. Suddenly he heard a voice from the Icon of the Virgin saying: “Do not open the gates today, but take all the brothers and go to the top of the walls and fend off the pirates.” The Abbot was startled and fixed his eyes upon the icon from which the voice came. And, behold, the Virgin as well as of the child she was holding became alive. Then the child turned his face towards his mother, stretched his right arm and tried to place his hand over her mouth, as if to silence her, and said, “No, Mother, don’t tell them and let them be punished as they deserve.” His Mother turned her head to the right to avoid his hand, grabbed it by the wrist and repeated: “Do not open the gates today, but take all the brothers and go to the top of the walls and fend off the pirates.”
The terrified Abbot immediately gathered all the brotherhood and related to them all that he heard from the Virgin and the Child. They all went into the church and, indeed, noticed with astonishment that the face of the Virgin and the Child and the whole formation of the icon was not as it used to be, but was as the Abbot described it to them.
All the brothers fell on their knees, thanked the Virgin Mother for her protection and the Lord for His mercy, and went to the top of the walls with the weapons that they kept in the monastery (no weapons are permitted in the Monasteries today). Then they opened the gates, but as the pirates were rushing in they were gunned down by the monks.
The icon is found today in the Chapel of the Theotokos of Paramithia on the wall behind the right chorus, and its formation is not the original one, but as it was refigured during the miracle. The face of the Virgin expresses sympathetic love, and her look inspires leniency, calmness and compassion, while on her lips one can distinguish a solemn smile. The face of the child, on the other hand is threatening, the expression of anger is displayed in all its lines, and his look is full of severity and inevitable judgment.
This miracle occurred on January 21, 807 AD.
Photos from the annual all-night vigil service for the miracle of the Theotokos of Paramithia at the Monastery of Vatopedi (February 2, 2013)
source: Fr.Evagoras Constantinides, The story of the Virgin.